Why is it that we allow our past relationships to dictate where our future ones are going?
The answer is pretty simple, because even after we have moved on, it doesn’t change the fact that the past is still a part of who you are. Even though we aim to live in the present, many of our choices are based on parts of our past.
We can’t seem to fully embrace the phrase, “You lived, you learned…”
It’s true the past can be an effective tool in the learning process but there is a time when letting the past dictate your future decisions can be ineffective; Such as in relationships.
So why and how are we letting it affect us? I will examine some examples below:
- you are matching patterns of the past with what’s occurring in the present.
It’s understandable if you had a tragic emotional experience in the past that the memory of it activates an internal fear mechanism and you start to be on the lookout for anything that vaguely reminds you of that experience. In all honesty, you are just trying to protect yourself from further harm. You are trying to match up the old experiences with the new but in trying to do so, you could actually begin to over analyze and see similarities where there really aren’t any. Psychologists would refer to this as false pattern recognition.
For example, as a kid I wasn’t the best at sports. Anytime I attempted to play I had team captains who would yell at me and make me feel horrible for not being as athletic or skilled as my counterparts. Therefore, I was not interested in playing sports for much of my life. I always associated it with being judged, berated and ridiculed than for what it actually is…fun!
False pattern recognition occurs whenever you respond negatively and over-emotionally to a particular experience. The thing is, most of the time we aren’t doing it purposely. From a logical standpoint, I know that I am playing with different people and I am an adult now but for some reason my response to the scenario is the same even though the incidents occurred years ago.
If you catch yourself doing this I recommend that you remind yourself that your current circumstances (the people, places, details and how you see things) have changed, so do not expect the same outcome.
- Realize you are a different person than you were before and you have grown
You know the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, your past ordeals have better equipped you to handle more trying situations in the future. You are now more self- aware. You have a better idea of what you are willing to put up with and what you will not tolerate. But most importantly you got through it!
- Anything new is going to be uncomfortable.
I have a girlfriend who I simply adore and she is hitting the dating scene and loving it. She’s actually interested in someone and things seem to be going well. But then the ghost of relationship’s past rears its head, and rather than just allow herself to enjoy the moment and see it as a fresh start, she is waiting for something to go wrong.
False pattern recognition– it’s normal. I revert back to my point- anything new is uncomfortable.
I remember being six months into a relationship before I stopped waiting for “the other shoe” to drop. I waited and waited and waited… eventually I stopped waiting and just let it go, I lived.
I think what helped is I learned to accept the following:
- The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.
We can’t predict the future! We don’t know if we will be at the same job 5 years from now; if we will be with or without children;
if we will be healthy or sick, rich or poor, alive or dead, etc., etc. We can’t get so caught up in trying to plan for the moment, that we miss it. So talk about the important things. Your morals, your values, what you are looking for in a relationship but most importantly don’t let this new relationship suffer because of what your old one put you through.
Experience is our greatest teacher…we don’t have to punish ourselves for having gone through it.
New Relationship, New Start. Don’t Subconsciously Self Sabotage!
Do You Remember
When We Fell In Love
We Were Young
And Innocent Then
Michael Jackson – Remember the Time